Global bid to save town twinning

Plans to replace the beleaguered Town Twinning group with a new ‘International Welcome’ body have been discussed by local officials.

Finding a solution to Hawick’s dwindling relationship with the French town of Bailleul was the only item on the agenda at a meeting on Monday night specially organised by Provost Stuart Marshall. The town’s civic head has stepped in in a bid to save a twinning bond which spans more than four decades, and has included hundreds of Teries.

But with a lack of interest and committee, finance and constitutional problems all leaving the twinning on its knees - despite several calls for support in recent years - Mr Marshall has revealed that this could be the last chance to preserve the tradition.

He told the Hawick News: “I called the meeting in order to try and resolve the many issues that the current town twinning group are faced with. It’s important that we try and get the group up and running, given our long standing association with Bailleul. I do fear that failure this time will put paid to town twinning as we know it, and that would be a real shame.”

During the discussions, attended by local councillors and a few twinning committee members, it was unanimously agreed that it was important to try and safeguard Hawick’s strong connection with Bailleul. And Provost Marshall has pledged to help with legal and financial problems - however, it has been suggested that the group will be able to survive if it casts its net wider.

Mr Marshall explained: “I proposed that once all the issues are sorted out, maybe it was time to look at forming an International Welcome group for the town, which could incorporate Bailleul, and this was warmly welcomed.”

He went on: “With Hawick now home to many Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanian and other European families then this route may prove to be very beneficial in forging closer links with these families as well as their communities back home, and of course us here in Hawick.”

However, Mr Marshall says he remains focused on helping the Town Twinning Association, commenting: “We need to get it back on its feet sooner rather than later, that must be the first hurdle to get over.”

Another meeting to discuss the twinning group is due to be held in the Heart of Hawick on September 4, at 6.30pm, to which all are welcome.